Opinions on Air 9- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Opinions on Air 9

    Yeah, another "what about this bike" thread. It's just that this is a big deal, and I want to get this right. I originally posted something like this in the Niner forum, but started thinking that's probably not the most objective place.
    So, I'm looking to build a bike. I was teetering between a 26 FS or a 29 HT or FS, but decided on the 29er. The Tallboy and the 429 both looked good, the frames aren't cheap, and an FS isn't an absolute necessity.
    Right now, one I'm really considering is the Niner Air 9. The reviews are generally good, it looks good on paper, and the LBS mechanic gave me a call to tell me how much he loves his. He also said when it warms up I can take his for a spin some time, since it's the size I'm looking for. It doesn't hurt the LBS is giving a really nice discount on the frame and parts. I just want to know what you all think about the frame? Good or bad experiences?
    '08 Specialized Rockhopper Comp Disc (Stolen). I hope you break both kneecaps of the jerk who stole you.

  2. #2
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    Bought one this year as my race bike comming from a Yeti ASR which was a great bike.Love the new frame,rolls great and covers the ground quickly.Not the most forgiving frame around despite what some will say but then again a lot of a hardtails feel is down to the setup.Id definetly give it the thumbs up.Oh and go's well with 80m or 100m forks.

  3. #3
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    I got the Air first, liked it so much I got the One 4 months later. They are made to go fast. I run mine with the fork set to 90mm. seems to be the perfect amount of travel
    If either bike frame broke, I would buy another tomorrow. That should tell the story.



    The Truth is out there. Here it isThe TRUTH

  4. #4
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    I want to get another one, maybe in Carbon.

  5. #5
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    My vote definitely goes towards the HT 29er. Even specifically the Air9.

    I have ridden FS26 for years and I just missed the simplicity of a HT, but didn't want to give up the comfy ride of FS, so a HT29 seemed perfect.

    I picked up my first HT 29er last summer and it's by far my favorite bike I have owned to date. It rides and climbs MUCH faster than my FS26, and it soaks up most of the mild rocks and roots that the FS handled.

    There are a few scenarios where FS would be nice, like drops, but on our single track here those are few and far between. If I decide that I want a FS bike again it will be a Jet9 with only 3" of rear travel.

    I picked a 2011 Giant XTC 29er 1, which has been amazing but I typically pick up a new bike every year, and this year it will be a Niner. I had originally wanted an EMD, but the AIR9 kept catching my eye so I did some research. Scandium is about 30% stronger than regular aluminum, so because of that they can use a thinner gauge tubeset. The thinner tubes will flex and absorb vibration and very similar to steel, but without the weight penalty.

    Hope this helps!

    -Adam
    adam michigan karate monkey

  6. #6
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    You cant go wrong with the Air9. Strong, fast, light and stiff. Everything I want. I find it quite compliant as aluminum/scandium frames go as well.

    ADDam, I also have an 2011 XTC. I have been on Air9s for years. Love them both.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by burritobeau
    You cant go wrong with the Air9. Strong, fast, light and stiff. Everything I want. I find it quite compliant as aluminum/scandium frames go as well.

    ADDam, I also have an 2011 XTC. I have been on Air9s for years. Love them both.
    How do you feel that the geometry of the Air9 compare to the XTC?
    adam michigan karate monkey

  8. #8
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    I raced a felt nine, work in a trek dealer,

    but still absolutely think my Air 9 is the BEST 29er hardtail, except for a very expensive hand built machines.

    Air9 is the BEST!!!

    Great geometry, super snappy and responsive, and tons of vertical compliance.

  9. #9
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    Another thumbs up for the Air9. To date it the best HT frame I've owned. Love the Geo and handling. Also has a nice springy feel. Mine is set up with a 100mm fork.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by ADDam
    My vote definitely goes towards the HT 29er. Even specifically the Air9.

    I have ridden FS26 for years and I just missed the simplicity of a HT, but didn't want to give up the comfy ride of FS, so a HT29 seemed perfect.

    I picked up my first HT 29er last summer and it's by far my favorite bike I have owned to date. It rides and climbs MUCH faster than my FS26, and it soaks up most of the mild rocks and roots that the FS handled.

    There are a few scenarios where FS would be nice, like drops, but on our single track here those are few and far between.

    Hope this helps!

    -Adam
    If I had a buck for every time I read this story, or heard one of my ridding friends say it I would have bought the new Niner frame in Carbon instead of Scandium. Still have trouble understanding how with all the info on this sight and others about big wheels why there is even still a debate. At any given time there is 4-5 times as many people on the 29'er forum than any other. Happy Trails
    Ride, Race or just polish it.... Do it till you smile!

  11. #11
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    Thanks all. This is pretty much what I've been picking up, but I just need to make sure. What you all are saying is why I'm considering a 29er. I had a chance to ride a FS one on a trail earlier this year. They just seem to have so many major advantages over 26ers. I'm not one to typically follow trends, but everyone I talk to has or is heading to one, and the industry as a whole really seems to be adopting the concept. From my own brief experience, the 29er is just awesome.
    '08 Specialized Rockhopper Comp Disc (Stolen). I hope you break both kneecaps of the jerk who stole you.

  12. #12
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    How do you feel that the geometry of the Air9 compare to the XTC?

    When I first rode an Air9 in 2006 it was the best 29er I had ever ridden. I have since tried many other frames but I always sell them an go back to the Air9. I hate to admit it because I love the Niner so much but I prefer to ride the XTC. The Niner is still great and as far as the frame material and feel it produces between rider and trail it is still the better frame. The geometry to me on the XTC just works better. It is a little more slack than the Niner and at times I like that. XTC is stiffer in the front end and I weigh 220#. the XTC is shorter and somehow is easier to get over obstacles such as a large downed tree. Niner is more of a racer and the XTC is more of an all day fun bike but I love them both.

  13. #13
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    I rode an Air9 during the 2008 season. Felt springy for an aluminium alloy frame. Prettly light weight. I thought the geometry was on the spot.

    Issues... cracking around the seat tube junction. I am a 175lb rider and my seatpost was inserted more than 3". Had cracking issues. Niner stood behind their product and were easy to work with. 2008 winter, I sold my replacement fame and moved on.

    $800 is a lot to spend on an aluminium alloy frame from Asia. Jeff Jones steel frame + fork is only $750. Lynskey Ridgeline's, second-hand, average about $550 online. Lots of options out there about $500.

    All comes down to what you want to do with your bike. Air9 is a racer frame. If you are not a racer, look at cheaper alternatives. Niner EMD is practically the same weight for $300 less.

  14. #14
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    Air9 not just for racers.

    I would like to give a perspective on the Air9 that may have not been shared before. Yes I was a racer years ago but now I am a clydesdale and just ride for fun. I still ride plenty hard in groups though. I am 6'1" with medium to large build so it didnt take much to get to cyldesdale status. I weigh 220#. I like the feel of Ti and steel but at 220# those aren't stiff enough unless nearly over-built so we are talking custom money. The Air9 has been my perfect bike for many reasons for years. Great geometry all though if I had my way it would be just a little more slack at the head tube. Stiff as I need yet has a sort of steelish, springy feel for an alloy frame. Light, there arent many lighter. I had a Lynskey that was maybe couple oz. lighter. Has held up under my weigh although I dont break much stuff just flex it up front. To sum it up, the Air9 is a racer oriented frame but thats no reason to not make it your straight trail rig especially if your a bit heavier. Big fellas need it stiff just to make it feel like most bikes feel to the lighter folks out there. I know of no other frame that provides the stability and quality I need, while still having great feel on the trail and being lighter than any frame thought I would ever ride again. Just Exceptional!

  15. #15
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    I've got one, like it for racing, posted about it on here a couple of times.

    Morgan

  16. #16
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    That's one thing I am a little worried about is the strength of the frame. I've heard in the past they had issues, and of course the Jet 9 had a recall. However, the mechanic I talked to said Niner has supposedly fixed those problems. Is that true? He supposedly has some emails from a rep or some other Niner employee he talks to which explain how they improved the frames.
    As far as cost, that's not a big deal. At $800, maybe so, but the LBS is said they're knocking down the price on all Niner frames. He's pricing the Air 9 at $600 and the EMD at $400. The EMD is still cheaper, but at $600 the A9 is looking like a pretty sweet deal.
    '08 Specialized Rockhopper Comp Disc (Stolen). I hope you break both kneecaps of the jerk who stole you.

  17. #17
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    A9

    So, what shop is selling an Air 9 for $600? Can you PM me? Thanks!

  18. #18
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    That's one thing I am a little worried about is the strength of the frame. I've heard in the past they had issues, and of course the Jet 9 had a recall. However, the mechanic I talked to said Niner has supposedly fixed those problems. Is that true?
    I think they've fixed any problems. But from time to time things do break. At leat you have the knowledge that Niner has been doing the right thing by their customers when they have a problem (even though the Jet recall was a fiasco). And another thing to consider is that Niners get ridden! These aren't the bikes that people buy that end up collecting dust in the garage. Stuff that gets used a lot tends to break more.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by tigerwah
    I think they've fixed any problems. But from time to time things do break. At leat you have the knowledge that Niner has been doing the right thing by their customers when they have a problem (even though the Jet recall was a fiasco). And another thing to consider is that Niners get ridden! These aren't the bikes that people buy that end up collecting dust in the garage. Stuff that gets used a lot tends to break more.
    Oh, I completely understand that. As you use stuff, it wears out. I just don't want frames that "wear out" every couple of years. Maybe after 10 or 15 years. But, it's sounding like they've fixed that problem.

    Now I just need to figure out what color...
    '08 Specialized Rockhopper Comp Disc (Stolen). I hope you break both kneecaps of the jerk who stole you.

  20. #20
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    Nice ride, great company (from a warranty perspective) and all the better if you can deal with a LBS. The first one I rode was a sub 26 lb. Air9. Definitely loved it though I ended up getting a FS primary rig (Turner Sultan at a killer price).

    Go for the Raw- looks cool when it glows in the dark!

  21. #21
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    Raw doesn't glow in the dark the atomic blue glows in the dark.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by yourdaguy
    Raw doesn't glow in the dark the atomic blue glows in the dark.
    According to the 2011 catalog: Air9 Finish Options: Vana White, Glow Raw, Tang

  23. #23
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    I'm still loving mine... long rides, short rides... responsive, but not harsh or fatiguing.


  24. #24
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    i've been riding mine since last Sept.....on most days it's the best thing ever....on others, I miss FS. i'm just a weekend warrior but enjoy the "racey" handling of this bike, it handles better than anything I've had and is more fun (attributed some to the big wheels of course). my concern has been the potential frame breakage issue. i'm 6-1 and 195lbs on a large and don't baby this thing....so we'll see.

    unless you ride really rooty trails or do big drops, this should work for most applications. i ride mostly XC with a minium of 15 miles per ride. i rarely feel "beat up" or sore back/ass. fast very bumpy downhills aren't that much fun though....it'll buck you around (and that's with 100mm of front travel). relatively smooth downhills are a blast!

    for reference, i was on a HT 26 aluminum bike for 8 years and a couple FS 26ers for 5. i plan to ride this thing until either the frame breaks (hopefully it won't), or I get a wild hair and go to either a steel HT, Ti HT, or something like the Jet9.....either way...i'm staying 29 (or until the 31 comes out! )

  25. #25
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    It was my first 29er, and about three years later I still enjoy the ride.

  26. #26
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    Some of the trails I ride are rocky and rooty, but I've tackled them on an old low-end rigid, so I think a HT 29er will be fine. I rarely feel overly fatigued by a ride, though I'm sure that will change as I get older.
    Glow in the dark raw would be cool. The website doesn't list it, though. However, it doesn't list the Atomic Blue, either.
    '08 Specialized Rockhopper Comp Disc (Stolen). I hope you break both kneecaps of the jerk who stole you.

  27. #27
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    Love my Air9 I do mostly endurance racing and its spot on for it. I did the Shenandoah Mountain 100 on it last season no problems. No back issues. LOVE IT.

    I did crack an older model. They replaced it no problem. If I cracked another one I'd get another Air9. Not big on FS bikes.

  28. #28
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    I had a scandium Air9 until recently - loved it. Geo was spot on, and it rode well. I've also had an XTC29er, and while it was great value, not quite on a par with the Niner IMO. Only reason I'm not on the scandium frame now is because I'm on the carbon version.

  29. #29
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    Can you tell us the difference between the Air9 and the Air9 Carbon as far as ride, stiffness, handling, etc.

  30. #30
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    Kinda difficult, as they were built up with different bits - a straight steerer Fox on the scandium, a tapered Reba on the carbon (both at 100mm), different wheels, drivetrain, handlebars, etc...!

    I can tell you the carbon immediately impressed me with how responsive it is, both under power and in directional changes. I've done a couple of multi-lap XC races ( ~2hr) right through to 100km MTB marathon races over the past 3 months, along with all my other riding (circa 15 hours/week), and it's been flawless.

  31. #31
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    My opinion is that the Air9 handles great... I'd buy another one for sure.
    Last edited by BShow; 01-10-2011 at 07:49 AM.

  32. #32
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    Wow, that's a pretty broad statement. FYI to everyone else 3 race seasons on my AIR9 and it's been bulletproof.

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